In this recipe for Red Kidney Bean Curry with Lamb (Rajmah Chawal) I wanted to take it from it’s rustic beginnings and bump it up a bit to a non-traditional version. I love this on it’s own, but I added ground lamb for a fuller meal.
Traditionally this is served simply with steamed rice, and obviously no meat as this is normally a vegetarian dish. You could also serve this alongside some barley, quinoa or couscous if you prefer, too. I didn’t have any dried beans to soak so I used canned that I had in my pantry.
The kicker for me in this dish is the introduction of a particular pepper, the birds eye pepper. I wrote a post, Choosing the Right Pepper about the various peppers I frequently use in my cooking and this one is key in taste and heat for this dish. At the time of that writing I had never used the birds eye pepper, or peri peri as it is known in African cooking. It is just below the habanero in heat if that gives you any idea of the bite this meal has in store for you! It is so good and for the adventurous I hope you seek it out and find it to use. I get mine from a neighborhood Indian market. Feel free to substitute your favorite pepper if it’s too hot for you, but give it a try, be adventurous!
OK for a visual I have a image here of the small bag of birds eye peppers I bought for this dish. They are so beautiful and demure looking, but be aware they are super hot, but with a slow build up in your mouth. It doesn’t really hit you right away and has you going back for more – bite after bite. And to think we are only using four of these little guys!
Named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, The Scoville scale is the measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers. In the below list you can see the heat of different peppers and their Scoville heat units:
- Pure capsaicin: 15,000,000–16,000,000 Scoville heat units
- Law enforcement pepper spray: 5,000,000–5,300,000 Scoville heat units
- Trinidad Scorpion T Butch Pepper: 855,000–1,463,700 Scoville heat units
- Habanero pepper: 100,000–350,000 Scoville heat units
- Bird’s eye chili: 50,000–100,000 Scoville heat units
- Cayenne peper: 30,000–50,000 Scoville heat units
- Tabasco pepper: 30,000–50,000 Scoville heat units
- Tabasco sauce: 2,500–8,000 Scoville heat units
- Jalapeno peppers: 2,500- 8,000 Scoville heat units
- Paprika: 2,500- 8,000 Scoville heat units
- Pimento: 100-500 Scoville heat units
- Bell pepper: 0 Scoville heat units
OK let’s get started! In a stock pot I heated the oil and added the diced onions. I sautéed them over a medium high heat, until the onions were soft and started turning golden around the edges. Next I added the chopped garlic, ginger and birds eye chiles, and fried it all together until fragrant, about another minute. Then I added the ground lamb, or beef if you prefer, and crumbled to break the meat down with a spoon. Browning the meat with the aromatic spices had the kitchen smelling good!
Next up I added the crushed tomatoes, ground coriander, ground cumin and garam masala, seasoned with a little kosher salt and turned down the heat and cooked, stirring every so often until the masala starts reducing, comes together in a sticky mass and the oil starts separating from it, 7 to 10 minutes. By the way, for your learning pleasure “masala” means a spice mixture.
Add the kidney beans and the chicken stock. Simmer for a few more minutes, until the beans were heated through. This is a simple and very easy dish to make and in really no time at all. I loved this Red Kidney Bean Curry with Lamb the next day even better, as the flavors and spices had a time to meld and develop.
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 lb ground lamb or beef
- 4 green bird's eye chiles, finely chopped
- 1½ cups crushed tomatoes and juices
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp garam masala + ½ teaspoon to garnish
- 32 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup chicken stock
- Hot water, as required
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
- Heat the oil in a stock pot and add the diced onions. Fry over a medium high heat, until the onions are soft and golden around the edges, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger and chiles, and fry together until fragrant, another minute. Add the ground lamb or beef and crumble to break down the meat with a spoon. Brown the meat add the crushed tomatoes, ground coriander, cumin and garam masala. Season with a little kosher salt. Turn down the heat and cook, stirring every so often until the masala starts reducing, comes together in a sticky mass and the oil starts separating from it, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the kidney beans and the chicken stock. Simmer for a few more minutes, until the beans are heated through. Add a little more hot water if the sauce is too thick.
- Stir in the reserved garam masala and cilantro, taste, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if needed. Serve over steamed rice.